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Mandatory ‘Need Improvement’ criterion in IWP moderation leaves teachers demotivated

The mandatory inclusion of the ‘Need Improvement’ criterion in teachers’ Individual Work Performance (IWP) has demotivated teachers in the country. A few teachers BBS talked to say that the compulsory requirement for schools to have a certain number of teachers in need of improvement, even if underserving, is unfair. The Royal Civil Service Commission implemented performance moderation for teachers, similar to civil servants, in 2017.

Like any other civil servants, school teachers are moderated on their performance based on the Individual Work Plan.

IWP is a performance evaluation tool to enhance individuals’ accountability and to align their work to what their organisations are trying to achieve.

The moderation process for teachers is based on a 100 per cent scale, with 60 per cent on IWP, 15 per cent on job size, 15 per cent on the degree of impact, and 10 per cent on feedback.

However, the integration of the ‘Need Improvement’ category has affected teachers. Requesting anonymity, teachers said the need for improvement rating is unfair.

“Actually, IWP, the concept of IWP, and the motive of IWP in policies are good but when it comes to having ‘Need Improvement’ as a compulsory criterion, in that field I feel that it is unfair to the teachers. For example, some schools do not have any teachers that deserve need for improvement. But in that case when we get criteria such as having to have Need Improvement as a compulsory requirement. I feel it is not fair.”

Moreover, teachers are required to document evidence such as photographs to verify their work and track their progress.

However, according to a few teachers, some who genuinely perform well but struggle with documentation receive lower ratings in the ‘Need Improvement’ category.

“With regard to this IWP rating, something which I really feel is not feasible and not working well is keeping documents. At the time of moderation, we are supposed to have photographs and evidence of whatever we do in our everyday activities in school. Some people do the work genuinely but they do not have the habit and they are not good at taking photos. Although they have done the work in the end they are rated low.”

“I think the idea of IWP is very good. However, when it reaches the real field, the objectives of the IWP are defeated. The teachers are more focused on collecting evidence that they need for the rating at the end of the year. So, they lose their focus on the primary role and educating students.”

“I would say that the IWP moderation has made all the teachers unhappy. Among many teachers, a few teachers are segregated as outstanding and few are mandated to be put in the ‘Need Improvement’ category. All the teachers work hard but at the end of the day, when teachers are segregated as outstanding and need improvement, all are unhappy about it.

Additionally, teachers added that in some cases, teachers planning to leave the job are volunteering to be categorized as needing improvement, defeating the objective of enhancing performance and efficiency through moderation.

Meanwhile, according to the RCSC, the benefit of moderating performance is to enhance the performance of bottom performers and motivate top and average performers through appropriate incentives.

While it is too early to assess the impact of the moderation system, officials from the RCSC said positive behavioural changes have been observed since its introduction.

Sonam Yuden

Edited by Sonam Pem